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Lydia Nsubuga '15
Hometown: Poughkeepsie, NY and no one there can pronounce my last name either so don't feel bad.
Class Year: 2015
Interests: Amnesty International, hiking and camping, Sirius Black, devouring books, my cheetah print snuggie
If you don't email me at least two questions a week I will take it as a personal insult. I jest. No but seriously, as a pre-frosh I was terrified of emailing students questions because I didn't want them to think I was lame and tell the dean who would also think I was lame and reject my application. But as tight as I am with all the deans here, I have no leverage over your admittance. So talk to me -- parents, prospective students, babysitters, whoever!
So long, farewell to you my friends. Goodbye for now until we meet again.
Whoever can name the TV show associated with that title can have my intro to economics textbook for $150. You won't find a better deal. Actually though...someone buy it.
Anywho, I know I said I'd give you guys my don'ts, buuuuttt I changed my mind. You'll have to email me for the other half of my dos AND my dont's. #abusingmypower
In other news, my philosophical question of the day (new trend I thought I'd start seeing as it's my last post and all) is: If you knew today was your last day at Amherst, what would you do? Sunbathe on memorial hill? Start a Disney song sing along in Val?
My answer? Finish a few essays, pack, and hang out with friends on quad while enjoying this gorgeous New England day. I couldn't imagine a more Amherst-esque way to end this amazing freshmen year. I hope that wherever you are reading this, you're enjoying your day too! AND have a lovely summer. Thank you so much for putting up with my crazy posts and reaching out to me with all of your questions and stories. Keep them coming!
I have an internship this summer in San Diego with Invisible Children so I'll be busy, but not too busy to chat it up with you guys.
Do it big, do it well,
20 Do's from a Wise Fool
On my last day of ninth grade, my English teacher’s parting words to us were that, as sophomores, we would become wise fools. Her speech came from the etimology of the word sophomore, where the wise part derived from the word sophos (ie: sophisticated) and fool came from moros (ie: moron). And here I sit four years later on the brink of becoming a wise fool all over again. If I knew on August 29th, what I knew today, I honestly don't know if I would do anything that differently because uh what are our parents always saying, it was a learning experience or something? Either way, I’ll bid my freshmen year as a blogger farewell by dedicating my two part final blog post to the Amherst College Class of 2016. In this post, I’ll leave you guys with 20 wise things to do as a freshman at Amherst, and 16 foolish things to do – more commonly known as Dos and Don’ts.
But just like RC Spence left me hanging for his final video blog post two years ago, I too will make you email me for the full copy of my 36 tokens of wisefooldom :)
1) Try new things. As my gurl Kelly Clarkson says, “Take a chance, make change, and break away.” Never done a sport before? Cool, join one! Even if it only seems remotely interesting, sign up for whatever clubs and activities look cool to you. Even if none of your friends are joining these things, there is no better way to branch out and meet new people than to explore activities with them. And who knows? You just might like the things you do! Remember, freshmen year is not the time to relive the last four years of high school, but to expand upon them. So “spring your wings and learn how to fly!” Trust Kelly, she knows.
2) Take advantage of your resources. Honestly, during first semester I thought I was too busy to use the Writing Center (connected to Charles Pratt dormitory). But IT IS EXPONENTIALLY HELPFUL! Even if you already think you’re a strong writer, which you probably are, these quick yet in depth 45-minute sessions will really help you highlight your strengths and weaknesses. After a few sessions, you'll really start to improve in your writing AND in your grades (which is always helpful). Chances are, your professors at Amherst will only grade your papers once. So why not get graded beforehand and make the improvements necessary to get a better grade on the grade that actually counts? Also, don't panic if your paper isn't finished in time for the appointment that you scheduled -- you're welcome to bring notes, outlines, or even just a prompt to the writing center for guidance and feedback.
Similarly, I think hands down the most underrated place at Amherst is the Moss Quantative Skills center, aka the Q Center, located in the labyrinth that is Merrill. Could I have survived Calculus and Economics last semester without Q Center head Tim St. Onge's Zen advice? Debatable. Could I have survived last semester in general without the Q Center's comfy couches, free cookies and hot chcolate, and free printing? NO! I honestly don't know why that room isn't jam packed at all times. Even if you’re not taking any quantitative classes, it’s a quiet place to read or study or write and like I said, there’s free snacks and printing. Frost A Level can’t offer you that.
Last note, take advantage of office hours! Honestly, you should attend at least one office hour a week. And considering you’ll be taking at least 4 classes with 4 office hours a week, that’s not asking too much. These hours are designed specifically for you to engage with your professors. So go bring them a draft of your essay, ask them to clarify some points on yesterday’s lecture, talk to them about last night’s Yankee triumph over the Red Sox. Whatever you choose to say in these times, this is your chance to get closer to the brilliant resources that are here to help you throughout your four years.
3) Forsake sleep once in a while. “What?! That’s horrible advice! Sleep is important. Sleep is healthy. Sleep is love.” You’re 3000% right. Don’t be that cranky guy who’s mumbling under his breath in line at Val because YOU decided to pull 3 all-nighters in a row. That’s never fun. But I don’t know how many hilarious, amazing, and eye-opening late night conversations I would have missed with my dorm mates if I would’ve went to bed every night at 9. Procrastination is okay. I repeat OKAY! Don’t let it take over your life. But don’t be afraid to take out an hour or two everyday to watch a movie with your friends, go on a walk around campus, or have a late night debate about Nickelodeon vs. Disney. After all, there’s more to college than just papers and problem sets. You learn just as much from hanging out with the people around you as you do from the books.
4) Speaking of books, don’t buy them unless you absolutely have to. Nearly ever professor gives out a syllabus on the first day of classes with a list of assignments and a list of books. Go on the Amherst Library website and look for each and every single book through the 5 College Consortium database, not just the Amherst database. If your search returns a few hits, request those items and wait for your EMAIL ;) telling you to pick them up from Frost. You can keep these books for the semester and return them to Frost Library, even if they’re from Smith, once you don’t need them anymore! I literally made it through all of Europe in the 20th Century without spending one cent. Half of my Political Science and Legal Theory class went the same way.
“But Lydia! What about the other half?!”
Only pay full sticker for a book if you must. You can find reasonably priced books at Amherst’s Student Run used bookstore called “The Option” or by talking to upperclassmen and finding deals from them.
5) Check your email religiously. This one’s pretty simple – just do it. I’m not saying to read and memorize all AAS spam verbatim, but you don’t want to be the guy who missed out on the 100 free tshirts in Keefe or the Thanksgiving air port shuttle sign ups because you’re too cool to refresh your inbox every few hours. You’re famous. People want to talk to you. Own it.
The best emails to thoroughly read are the Amherst College E-Digest and MRC Weekly, which concisely list all the fun events of the week as well as important deadlines for classes or trips or other things.
6) Make dat money. Building on my last point, news of Psychology Department Studies almost always comes via email. $5-$10 for 20-30 minutes of your time is a sweet deal. Like, I just got back from Bueno Y Sano (the best burrito joint in town) because I got a $20 gift card after doing a one hour psych study a few weeks ago. It’s an awesome way to help out your upperclassmen friends with their theses while sustaining your junk food addiction.
7) Get off campus. It’s easy to get caught up in the “Amherst Bubble” and start to feel bogged down by the same scenery. To avoid this stagnation, venture into town one or twice per week. Even if it’s just to buy some toothpaste at CVS, it’s nice to see a world beyond the freshmen quad sometimes. Personally, I found solace in going to one of Amherst’s many churches every week and interacting with the people of the Amherst community there. A few weeks ago, our reverend procured a few dozen tickets to the Amherst Cinema so that we could see the movie Bully and have a parish discussion about bullying in our society. Similarly, friends of mine often tutor in schools around Amherst and Mount Holyoke or participate in organizations like Girls Inc or Big Brothers, Big Sisters. It truly is an enriching part of the Amherst experience to build community ties and feel like a part of the town beyond just the college.
8) Take advantage of the Liberal Arts curriculum. You’ll quickly learn from skyping with friends at other schools that only at a handful of other colleges across the country can you take whatever classes you want all four years. There are no general education requirements which allows you to design your our schedule and choose from a breadth of different subjects – so do that! If you’re into sciences, it’s time to take a guitar lesson. If you’re a history buff, you should delve into astronomy. If there’s one thing I’ve discovered during the three times that I’ve had to register for classes at Amherst, it’s that the hardest thing about designing your schedule is that you only have 32 classes over the 4 years and there are hundreds of interesting classes within the 5 College Consortium to choose from. So explore!
9) Take pride in Lord Jeff nation. You go to a school where the football team had an undefeated season and beat Williams at THEIR homecoming game. This year alone, we pocketed 6 NESCAC titles. Twice in one weekend, I stormed the court at LeFrak gymnasium at games that helped put both of our basketball teams on the road to the NCAA finals. Even if all these acronyms mean nothing to you and you’ve never played a sport in your life, you should make the effort to attend a few games during your freshman year. Homecoming and all-Williams games are undoubtedly the most fun, but either way, sporting events are a fun way to relax with friends and take pride in being the athletic powerhouse of the NESCAC league.
10) Use the middle stall in the bathroom in Val (ladies). It’s the only stall with a hanger for your purse/back pack. Pretty straight forward. Nobody wants to put their bag on the floor.
If you like where this is going, email me for the other ten! They get pretty juicy. And stay tuned for my "16 Don’ts".
Each Spring, Amherst's Program Board puts on "Spring Weekend", an event that actually starts in the middle of the week with Amherst's infamous t-shirt throwing madness. If you've ever read this blog before, you know that how my experience with this ended.
With tickets and t-shirts in hand, the wait for the one and only LUDA began.
On Friday night, a big white tent went up on the Valentine Quad as Amherst lads and lassies dressed in their finest for Spring Formal. The festivities lasted until the wee hours of the night although the snacks were definitely all eaten by 12:00. Still, we had a blast. So much so that we needed to lay in bed until the late afternoon to recooperate. After drawn out lunch trips to Val and updating our profile pictures to group shots of the night before, we all gathered in the corners of libraries across campus, textbooks out by minds blank in anticipatory solidarity. Waiting. Waiting. Waiting.
Luckily, if you're on Program Board or working for Student Security the wait only lasted 'til 5:00pm. We ate pizza and candy, hung out, sang our usual pump up song and got all of the logistics ready for the makings of a great show. At 7:00pm, the doors opened, but, honestly, the line started forming at like 5:00pm. Program Board and Student Security successfully wristbanded, patted down, and metal detector wanded over 2200 people. I repeat 2200 people. Amherst Students, 5 College Students, Amherst residents, and even a 5 year old. I kid you not. From my vantage point at the entrance, this diverse crowd seemed to be having the time of their lives with crowd surfing, stage diving, and sing-alongs with Luda.
By 11:00pm, the concert had ended, but like the fog machines blaring in the corners of the gym, Amherst students refused to stop going. In fact, you could argue that Spring weekend carried on to this weekend since Amherst had it's annual Spring Carnival in the Keefe Campus center. Mechanical bulls, cotton candy, and a bouncey castle are among the attractions I've heard my friends raving about from that day.
Not so unfortunately for me, I was at a Rugby Tournament in Vermont. Did I mention that I joined the team? Well, I did!
The Room Draw Games: May the odds be ever in your favor
Each spring Amherst students participate in Room Draw. Those of us with preferential housing (don’t hate the player, hate the game) or people who apply to theme houses (ie: Asian Culture House, German Culture House, Marsh, the Art and Music House, Charles Draw, the Black Culture house, etc.) are exempt from the process.
But from what I’ve gathered from nodding at my friends and pretending to listen while they describe their various experiences to me, Room Draw consists of students submitting groups of one or more to the Residential Life Dean who then randomly assigns these groups lottery numbers and uh um puts them on a list and um gives them a time to go to the Campus Center and choose whatever rooms are left over…or something.
Anyway, the fun part of this is Amherst’s long-standing tradition of Lip Sync, a contest where students dissatisfied with their time slot and lottery number get a chance to move to the top of the lottery list of their class year by performing in front of the entire school. The trick is, unlike a regular talent show, you can’t actually sing or play instruments in said performance. So the key is to incorporate whatever props, costumes, dance moves, and crazy antics you deem fit to leave an impression on the audience and the judges.
This year we had 2.5 dance numbers to Call Me Baby, an ode to Lion King, boys dancing in short (REALLY short) shorts, a real life version of The Game of Life, a lone break dancer, two freestyles (not lipsyncing) from our sick MCs, and a bunch of other hilarious acts that I couldn’t see clearly through my tears of laughter.
Check out a Lip Sync performance from a few years back:
And although the judges could only choose one winner per class year, there were no losers because, let’s face it, Amherst housing is pretty legit.
As quickly as she came, spring break has now flown away. While some of my friends went on excavating trips to Egypt and others went on sports training trips to Florida and George, I slept roughly 10+ hours a day and got caught up on my favorite British sitcoms. #YOLO
I also accomplished some light beach reading. Aka books on books on books for my Europe in the 20th Century comparative research paper on the Warsaw Pact vs NATO. It's not as bad as it looks, though. Plus, history is my guilty pleasure, so I'd say it was a fun/productive 10 days.
But as I packed up the family sized nutella my mom bought me and hung my winter coats back in my bedroom closet for next year (BIG MISTAKE! It's chilly again in the 413. Is it silly to hope for snow? :D), I realized that I only have six weeks left of my freshman year of college. Six weeks! Wasn't yesterday Luau? Where did the time go?
During my 2.75 hour drive from Po-Town back to the Herst, I reflected on these past few months (I overslept that morning so the whir of the engine didn't lullaby me to sleep -- rarity for me). I remember touring Amherst as just another prefrosh praying that my mom wouldn't ask any embarrassing questions, and now I walk to class and see my friends giving these tours. I remember clapping after A Cappella performances in awe and now I cheer for my dormmates and teammates once they get off stage before we celebrate with fries at Schwemm's. At one point, I watched all of this from the outside. But now I'm a part of it. It's more than just a page in a college catalog -- it's my life. And I feel like sometimes, I get so caught up in the hustle and bustle of writing papers, taking so long to eat at Val that the workers come out and tell us that that they're closing, running to meetings, and running to practice that I forget how much I loved this place when I applied here, loved it when I got here, and still love it now. The truth is that I'm sprung. And maybe it's being induced by the way the sun shimmers on the bright green grass. But I love this place and these next six weeks are going to be awesome. I can feel it.
Let it snow?
Soooooo was that supposed to be a notoriously harsh New England winter? Because that was nothing compared to my years in the Mid Atlantic. Amherst procured two minor snow falls in all of 2012. But even though I never got to steal a Val tray and sled down Memorial Hill, I know I still have three more years to keep the tradition alive.
Besides, spring in the 'Herst is g o r g e o u s! Cranking out a paper while laying on the grassy quad, basking in the sun, and tossing a frisbee with friends (who am I kidding? I don't know how to throw a frisbee -- I just watch) really isn't too much of a chore.
I just can't believe that this is the last week before Spring Break. A few more lectures, ten page papers, TAP tshirts, laughing fits past quiet hours, and val brownie fudge sundaes, and freshman year will be over. Cue the reverse nostalgia!
On a completely unrelated now, Frost Library opened up it's new cafe and I have resigned to volunteering for every single $5 psychology study to balance my addiction to late night desserts. It's working.
What are YOUR spring break plans?! And by that I mean, who's coming with me to the Hunger Games midnight premiere?
Stuck in the middle with you
This past week has been nothing but epic basketball/hockey team wins!
Oh, and midterms. (For every ying, there is a yang) Honestly, midterms wouldn't be that hard if I wasn't so easily distracted by all the fun things that went on around campus during this week. Film screenings, Dr. Seuss AC After Dark events, Amnesty International debates about Kony, Sham Rock 'n Roll TAP (no tshirt for this one :(), Republican primaries, painting my nails, eating food, napping, zoning out, tweeting, the list goes on and on!
But all in all, I buckled down, churned out a few papers, and survived another week of midterms at Amherst College. How did I celebrate this success? By visiting my friend at UMass!
Unfortunately, I didn't know that when the PVTA schedule says 8:45pm it actually means 8:45pm, so when I was walking down to the busstop at 8:46pm, I saw the bus whizzing down Route 9 and had to wait 20 minutes for the next one. And 20 minutes in "I miss my best friend" time is like 3 days in regular human time. After much adieu, I made it to UMass and had my first taste of Greek life, something the other colleges in the consortium don't take part in. That's what's cool about the 5 College Consortium -- each college offers something that the other schools don't, making your college experience that much richer.
For instance, we're having a professor at Smith who just moved to America from the Congo come and give a talk at Amherst for Amnesty International. You guys should all come! Or at the very least, read my next post about how cool it was.
All We Do is Win Win Win No Matter What
Got NESCACs on our mind we can never get enough!
Going to a school where nearly 30% of the student body participates in a varsity, club, or intramural sport, it's nearly impossible not to get riled up about being a Lord Jeff. Especially since one could argue (and/or chant rowdily at the visiting fan section) that our teams are unbeatable! Whether you're an avid NBA follower or you've never even heard of basketball, (at summer camp, one of my co-counselors from New Zealand genuinely had no idea what basketball was -- it was kinda funny) you can take pride in knowing that Amherst's men's and women's basketball teams are #2 and #1 in the nation respectively. Despite our varying interesting and activities, there comes a time when every Amherst student must paint purple stripes on their cheeks, throw on an "Eph Williams" shirt, and march down the hill to LeFrak Gymnasium. This time is known as Amherst vs. Williams.
This weekend, in an under 24 hour span, our men's basketball team gave fans a reason to rush the court -- TWICE!
Low quality picture taken while jumping up and down. Somewhere in this sea of purple is our basketball team.
The first time was after our final buzzer win (80-78) against Williams on Friday night. Then again on Saturday afternoon after upsetting the then second-ranked Middlebury team. As a result, we'll be playing against Hamilton in NESCAC quarter-finals this weekend! As our women's basketball team and hockey teams performed well too, it was a great weekend to be a Lord Jeff.
Another fun event at Amherst this weekend was the "Screw Your Roommate" Tap. As you guys can probably guess, I scored a tshirt (actually 2) from this TAP, but I had to be steathier than usual. The way "Screw" works is that your roommate or friend or any random person who walks into Keefe Campus Center goes to the Social Council table during the week before TAP and pairs you up with anyone other Amherst student. Social Council then gives you two the same number when you arrive at TAP and, theoretically, you shmooze around the party until you see your fated "Screw" sporting your identical number sticker on their shirt. But everrrrrrybody knows the easiest way to get a TAP shirt from Screw is to have a friend pair you up with another friend and then walk into the TAP with that friend. What Social Council doesn't know won't hurt them...
Talk to you guys soon! =)
Add/Drop it like it's hot
Can't believe it's been over a month since we last spoke (well, I spoke and you read)! I've missed you all dearly and hope that you had splendid winter holidays. Mine consisted mostly of sleeping in 'til noon (at the earliest) and reading lots and lots of books (you can take girl out of Amherst, but you can't take the Amherst out of the girl). In particular, I read Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close which was amazing and then I saw the movie which was ALSO AMAZING and definitely worthy of an entire run-on sentence on my blog.
But just because school's back in session, doesn't mean the fun has stopped! Last weekend, RC Spence took us (his residents (the awesome students that comprise North dormitory (the coolest kids on the planet ))) out for some family bonding and delicious Chinese cuisine at the local Amherst Chinese not too far from campus.
It's funny to think that a little over a a year ago, I was scrolling through RC Spence's blog thinking "Wow, Amherst kids are so cool! I want to be one!" and now we're pretty tight, eating dinner together and whatnot. Awwww!
In other news, classes started last Monday and today marks the last day of the Add/Drop period, a time in which students can sit in and shop classes without any committment. And we all know I love to shop, so shop I did! I sat in on everything from physics classes to drawing classes.
Everyone in my class was cranking out these breathtaking still lifes of the David statue in the corner, but I just drew my friend Liz sitting in front of me. Our professor was really sweet and patient with me all the same.
But as much as I wanted this shopping spree to continue forever, I finally settled on classes in political science, legal theory, european history, and film & writing. They are all such different topics and yet so intriguing. In my Europe in the 20th century class, I sat so mesmerized by what my professor was saying that I forgot to blink and my contacts dried up. (Don't act like that's never happened to you before!) Oh and, FUN FACT from my American National Politics class: if Shay's Rebellion had worked, Amherst would be in a different country. Amherstia perhaps. Or Shaysland. Thankfully, however, George Washington put a stop to the madness which means I don't have to choose between representing PK, NY and going to school in Amherstia-Shaysland. I do however have to choose between being surrounded by Patriots fans in Western Masschusetts and acknowledging the fact that the Giants are OBVIOUSLY going to grab yet another superbowl victory this weekend!
Okay, heading off now for a Film & Writing screening of what Alfred Hitchcock considers his best film. NBD.
PS Thanks for everyone who emailed me during these past few weeks! I love hearing from you guys so keep on writing me :)